Elderberry & Rose Oxymel


1 part apple cider vinegar

1 part honey

Dried elderberries

Dried rose petals


An oxymel is an old herbal preparation that involves infusing herbs in a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar.

While oxymel’s have traditionally been used to mask the unpleasant flavour of some herbs, we decided to use elderberries and rose petals, which have a lovely flavour. As a result, this magenta hued beverage is delicious! Not only is it pleasant to look at and taste, it is also a great addition to your kitchen medicine cabinet.

Elderberries are often used to help support the immune system and improve colds & flus, which is supported by both research and a long history of successful use. Research shows that elderberries can help shorten the duration of the flu1, and treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.2 Viruses typically cause both the flu and other upper respiratory tract infections, but some research has revealed that elderberries have the potential to fight bacterial infections as well.3 While this is promising, it is still important to seek the advice of your medical professional if you are not getting better in a timely manner, are concerned about your symptoms, or are getting worse.

— Chelsea

Adapt to make whatever size you want


  1. Fill desired jar ¼ full with herbs. In this recipe, we used about ¾ elderberry and ¼ rose petals, but it really doesn’t matter.
  2. Top with equal parts apple cider vinegar and honey. It is best to fill the jar, so keep that in mind when selecting which jar to use.
  3. If the jar has a metal lid, cover it with parchment paper before screwing the lid on, as the vinegar and metal will react.
  4. Shake it daily for 2 weeks, making sure to keep it in a cool, dark place.
  5. When ready, strain the herbs, and then store the remaining oxymel in the fridge.
  6. To enjoy, mix 1-2 tbsp (or more, to taste) of oxymel with carbonated water and serve over ice. It would likely work well in a cocktail too, or make a great salad dressing.

Further ideas and modifications

  • Use any dried herbs that you enjoy! For the next batch, I am thinking about using elderberry and rose hip. Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove and star anise sound delicious as well.

  • Other oxymel recipes use a higher proportion of honey to vinegar, which you could consider if you prefer a sweeter taste.

  • Note: this is just one way to make an oxymel, and there are other methods out there. We liked the ease of this method.

  1. Zakay-Rones, Z. et al. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 32(2):132-40.
  2. Hawkins, J et al. (2019). Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 42: 361-365.
  3. Krawitz C. et al. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 11:16.


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